The race for the party nominations for President is well under way and on both sides we are hearing debate over which candidate truly represents the principles of their party. For the Republican field this is the question of who is the ‘true conservative’.
I would like to suggest the following principles by which one might identify a true conservative. In the interest of full disclosure I would note that the categories are not original to me but I cannot remember where I first discovered them. The commentary is mine.
In this post I offer the first four.
Principle #1. Judeo-Christian Theism- God’s existence is the basis for absolutes in truth & morality
A conservative recognizes that there are objective and absolute truths. Truth is not the property of men and women who claim a right to reinterpret or define it as is convenient to them. One does not necessarily need to be a ‘believer’ to be a conservative, but they will recognize that truth exists outside of them. For the believer, there is a recognition that because the Triune God is the embodiment and epitome of Truth (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 45:19; 65:16; John 14:6; 16:13; 1 John 5:6) He alone is the source of our claims for truth. If we are people who claim truth, there must be a source of that truth—that source is God. A conservative seeks to align their life and beliefs with this objective truth, admitting their faults and inconsistencies as part of the process.
Principle #2. Biblical Individualism- Value of each human life based on their humanness
Every human is created in the image of God and therefore deserves and demands respect. In contrast to the social-political left, conservatives believe that all lives matter. Conservatives do not elevate one group over another; such a practice is a disgraceful leftist game which only further divides people from each other. From the pre-born to the elderly; the mentally ill and the terminally ill; even the convict on death row- every life matters. [I have developed this further in a post from August 2015 ‘Putting Political Correctness in its Place.’]
Principle #3. Anti-Communist- Communism is the enemy of human freedom & dignity
This is a continuation of the first and second principles. The social-political left idolizes the communistic philosophy; but for those who are forced to live under such a system, the reality is far different. It is estimated that just under 100 million people died in the 20th century under communist regimes.(1) Why is this so? Communism by its nature rejects God and therefore defines its own truth, and it rejects the inherent worth of individuals, treating them instead as resources to be expended for the good of the State. If they die in the process, they can be replaced. In Western Europe in the Middle Ages this was called serfdom, and is decried by historians. Communism is no different. Communism keeps people from realizing their God-given potential and reduces them to numbers or categories; crushing individualism and creativity (read Ayn Rand’s Anthem). Let’s not be fooled, the pseudo-democracies of the West are increasingly moving in this direction. Any political system which views citizens as resources to be managed is a threat to all. Conservatives understand that true liberty can never be realized when the very few decide what is best for the rest.
Principle #4. Anthropological & Political Realism- People are inherently sinful
Just as Christians do not harbor false ideals of the ‘goodness’ of man apart from the transforming power of God through Christ, so conservatives recognize that the natural-historical tendency of humanity is to dominate and oppress their fellow humans. While most people, more often than not do good things, this does not make them inherently good and they will ultimately, when left to themselves, serve their own self interest. In this matter the rule of law is essential. Laws are not instituted to oppress the innocent, but to control those who determine to be the oppressor. Conservatives recognize that laws are good things and need to be enforced, but also that no law can change the human heart. Enforcement of law is valued and penalty for law breaking is necessary, but enacting more specific and stringent laws and constructing more detention facilities cannot solve the true problem. Government programs and regulations are an impotent salve on an open wound.
(End part I)
(1) John J. Walters, “Communism Killed 94M in 20th Century, Feels Need to Kill Again” reason.com Mar. 13, 2013 accessed Feb 26, 2016